NaNoWriMo Rules You Have to Know


As quickly because the seasons begin to shift from summer time to fall, it looks like each writerly nook of the Internet turns into consumed with one query and one query solely:

Are you going to do NaNoWriMo this 12 months?

If you’re asking your self that query, you’ve come to the proper place. In this text, we’ll speak about what NaNoWriMo is, the NaNoWriMo guidelines (official and unofficial), and a few suggestions I’ve personally compiled that will help you take advantage of your NaNoWriMo expertise.

What is NaNoWriMo?

Let’s seek the advice of the 2009 vlogbrothers video titled “NaNoWriMo!!!” In it, John Green defines NaNoWriMo like this: “In case you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s National Novel Writing Month, an annual occasion wherein folks attempt to write a fifty-thousand phrase novel in a single month.”

That sums it up properly! NaNoWriMo takes place throughout the month of November, and its aim is to get its individuals to jot down a novel of fifty-thousand phrases by the top of the month. Participants make accounts on the competition’s website and enter their every day phrase counts there. The website additionally makes use of every day phrase counts to venture how lengthy it’s going to take the participant to complete their novel (even when they don’t win NaNoWriMo), how a participant’s phrase depend compares to others within the space, and, after all, how shut they’re to finishing their aim.

Often, on-line communities type of drop every thing to deal with NaNoWriMo. It’s almost inescapable, and it’s not onerous to grasp why. Writing is usually an intensely solitary exercise, and whereas some writers might need in-person author buddies, rather a lot don’t. Events like NaNoWriMo give writers an actual sense of neighborhood as they work in the direction of their frequent aim, and that is the true magic of NaNoWriMo.

The First Three Rules for NaNoWriMo

We’ve talked about the best way to formally enter NaNoWriMo (organising an account on the positioning linked above), however what are the foundations? Surely it might probably’t be so simple as ‘write fifty-thousand phrases in a month.’

When NaNoWriMo was first based, there was a algorithm governing how the competition would play out and what participation counted in the direction of the top aim. Kelsey McKinney, writing for Vox, outlines these foundational guidelines, which have been put in place by Chris Baty in 2000:

  1. The writing venture should be new
  2. It should be written by a single particular person
  3. It needs to be completed by midnight on November thirtieth

This is all easy, and the foundations for NaNo haven’t modified a lot within the years since. Now, in the event you look on the Wikipedia web page for present guidelines, they’re largely simply an enlargement on the prevailing standards. The contest begins at first of the month and ends on the finish of the month, the aim is fifty-thousand phrases, et cetera.

Do I’ve to observe these guidelines to take part?

What in the event you’re working with one other author or with a gaggle of writers on a novel, or what in the event you’re engaged on a novel that’s going to exceed fifty-thousand phrases (virtually all of them do)? What in the event you’ve acquired a venture you’ve began, and also you wish to use NaNoWriMo to essentially deal with it?

That’s positive!

As the Wikipedia web page factors out, NaNoWriMo is a “self-challenge,” which implies it’s largely arrange for individuals to push themselves towards the aim. There’s not somebody from the NaNoWriMo group standing over your shoulder and going “uh, that’s not a brand-new thought. You already had that file in your pc. Pack up your pens and go!”

As lengthy as you may have put fifty-thousand phrases in, you’ve gained the competition.

Does this cheapen the deal? Not actually. The largest reward individuals get for finishing NaNo is the achievement itself: writing fifty-thousand phrases in a month. Sometimes NaNo will provide to print a replica of the participant’s draft or one thing like that, however normally, you get a certificates and a pat on the again. Most of the reward is within the work itself.

So if you wish to observe the foundations, observe them! If not, cool! It’s your life.

My (very unofficial) NaNoWriMo Rules: Tips for Having a Good Time

The present guidelines for NaNoWriMo are simply positive, however as somebody who’s been a participant yearly for some time, listed here are a number of tricks to profiting from your NaNoWriMo expertise.

1. Don’t got down to write a novel

I do know, I do know, that is type of the entire level of NaNoWriMo, however hear me out.

You’re virtually positively not going to jot down an excellent novel in a month. First drafts are hardly ever any good, and the primary draft of one thing you manically typed over the course of a month might be additionally not going to be superb.

John Green factors this out in “NaNoWriMo!!!,” saying “as a rule, no nice e-book will be written in a month.”

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t attempt to do your greatest otherwise you shouldn’t attempt to write a e-book. It’s simply to say that you must hold your expectations cheap. What you’re going to finish up with is fifty-thousand phrases—that’s all you will be certain of. It most likely won’t be a whole draft, since most novels are way more than fifty thousand phrases, and it’ll positively be tough.

I prefer to strategy NaNoWriMo as a large phrase dash. For anybody who doesn’t know: a phrase dash is the place you set a timer for a brief period of time, normally 5 to twenty minutes, and write as a lot as you possibly can with out stopping till the timer goes off. The goal of a phrase dash is simply to get one thing on the web page—you possibly can work with one thing, however not with nothing.

And as somebody who has a extremely troublesome time getting an imperfect one thing on the web page (preferring the always-perfect-but-not-actually-real-and-therefore-unsellable-nothing), this makes NaNoWriMo an excellent alternative for some precise making an attempt. You’re going to should revise your first draft it doesn’t matter what you do.

As John Green goes on to say within the video, “No nice e-book will be written in a primary draft irrespective of how lengthy it takes you to jot down it…NaNoWriMo provides us self-discipline and it provides us permission to suck, that are the 2 stuff you most want in the event you’re going to be a novelist.”

2. Use NaNoWriMo for caught initiatives

Speaking of getting an imperfect one thing on the web page: I like to make use of NaNoWriMo strategically as a method to work on present initiatives. This is in direct violation of the foundations, nevertheless it works out properly for me.

Like I mentioned earlier than, NaNoWriMo is a self-challenge. There’s not a NaNoWriMo police and there’s not a NaNoWriMo decide coming to dwell with you for the subsequent month to maintain you in line. You can just about use this contest for no matter venture you’ve acquired that must be labored on. I personally like to make use of it to get plenty of phrases written—generally these phrases go in the direction of one draft, however generally they go in the direction of work, quick tales, poems, or no matter I want to do this month.

This would possibly sound type of antithetical to the spirit of the problem. Couldn’t I try this some other month? Why use NaNoWriMo simply to knock out my to-do listing?

Glad you requested!

Again, in my view, the largest attraction to NaNoWriMo is in the neighborhood that comes up round it. People publish their phrase depend objectives and share their works-in-progress (#wip) on Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, most likely additionally TikTok (in some way, I’m not on WriterTok, however I assume it exists since BookTok does), most likely additionally in every single place else. It’s free to hitch and it invitations writers to attempt to do an inconceivable activity, which is one thing that simply type of appeals to most writers.

NaNoWriMo additionally affords the flexibility so as to add buddies on their web site. This means that you can verify in your buddies’ progress, check out their initiatives, and usually join with different folks taking part within the contest.

When I look again on the years that I’ve achieved NaNoWriMo, I keep in mind a little bit of the initiatives I labored on—the Pinterest boards, the character templates, PrepTober occasions, stuff like that.

But largely I keep in mind the glow of my pc display screen at one o’clock within the morning, my heavy eyelids and drained retinas, my palms steadily growing a cramp which might go on to hang-out my mid-twenties with a ardour (significantly, handle your wrists, fellow typists). I keep in mind telling my buddies the second I hit my phrase depend aim and the moments my buddies hit theirs.

Like I mentioned earlier than, writing is usually lonely. There aren’t a ton of alternatives to attach with different authors engaged on their very own initiatives with a ferocity like folks convey to NaNoWriMo. Take benefit of the neighborhood, and a number of the friendships you discover would possibly final nicely previous NaNoWriMo.

Now, to my final unofficial rule…

4. Use NaNoWriMo to develop some writerly self-discipline

Before you get mad at me: I positively am not saying that you have to be writing fifty-thousand phrases each month. In truth, I might argue that you simply positively shouldn’t be. Drafting is just one small a part of the writing course of, and never day by day goes to be a drafting day. Fifty-thousand phrases is, respectfully, a crap-ton of phrases, and in the event you’re writing that many that always, they’re most likely not nice phrases (and I say this as a once-ghostwriter who used to crank out thirty-thousand phrases per week on the common).

That being mentioned, writing does require a ton of labor, largely in revision. Being a capital N Novelist goes to contain writing when you don’t really feel prefer it and making writing an everyday, structured a part of your life. It won’t be day by day, nevertheless it’s going to should be common.

So, use NaNoWriMo to develop habits that give you the results you want. Take be aware of what time of day you favor to jot down, or what types of drinks you prefer to sip when you work, or whether or not you want to jot down open air or inside.

Does freewriting go well with you greatest? What about typing? Maybe you like Microsoft Word, or possibly you’re actually into Scrivener. Keep observe of those sorts of issues and make an effort to kind some type of schedule or regiment—this may be edited or modified as your wants fluctuate, however simply as you possibly can’t write an ideal first draft, you possibly can’t develop into a disciplined creator with out no less than a little bit effort.

Bottom Line

Use NaNoWriMo to ask your self what it takes to get you to sit down down and work in your novel usually. Set month-to-month writing objectives. Then, take these habits you constructed throughout NaNoWriMo into your future writing initiatives, and also you’ll be nicely in your method to success.


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